[ Posted : 06.30.04 ]

 

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Is NASA Sending the Cassini Mission

to its Doom?!

 

An Enterprise Mission Hyperdimensional Report

 

By Richard C. Hoagland
© 2004 The Enterprise Mission

 

 

Close to a quarter century ago, another NASA mission to the planet Saturn almost died ….

 

It was the evening of August 25, 1981, and I was once again at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory – along with about 500 newsmen, scientists and “space groupies” from all around the world. Voyager 2, the second of NASA's “Grand Tour” missions to the outer solar system, was nearing Closest Approach – the point where the spacecraft would pass nearest to the cloud tops of the second largest planet of the solar system. After that, it was also going to perform the most dangerous maneuver of its entire mission – a plunge down through Saturn's rings.

 

While targeted outside the densest rings (A, B and C), in a supposed clear gap between two outer “ringlets” (G and E), in truth what JPL was attempting on this trajectory was a very hazardous maneuver. Traveling more than 13 miles per second, even a speck of sand orbiting in Saturn's ring plane and encountered at those speeds would spell instant annihilation of the spacecraft and the mission.

 

On Earth, over an hour and a half away (even at the speed of radio transmission), dozens of NASA controllers were therefore almost glued to their computer screens, up the hill from where the rest of us were gathered in the Von Karman Auditorium, watching. They (as we) were monitoring (via Voyager 2's broadcast telemetry) a variety of on-board systems -- ranging from the condition of the science instruments, to the critical orientation of the spacecraft relative to Saturn, to actual amazing images of Saturn itself – all in “an effort of will” to keep Voyager “on mission” during this most critical few hours.

 

The information the controllers (and we) were viewing was, of course, over 90 minutes old – because of that finite speed of light. If a problem was detected, if something did hit Voyager (or Voyager hit “something!”) … it would be at least another 90 minutes before any corrective commands radioed from Earth could even reach the distant spacecraft ….

 

In truth, therefore, Voyager 2 was on its own.

 

Because of this reality, the spacecraft was following a meticulously pre-planned program of specific attitude turns, scan platform maneuvers and science observations, uploaded by these same controllers weeks before -- even as Voyager 2 now fell closer and closer to the giant planet. Ninety light minutes from Earth, it was this crucial on-board computer program which was “doing all the driving.” This relegated all us “nervous Voyager watchers,” including me, gathered together over a billion miles from Saturn … to being “just observers.”

 

We would only know about disaster … if it happened … well after it had happened.

 

Despite this impending real life drama, there were only a few of us “die hards” – out of the more than five hundred press and VIPs accredited by NASA in previous few days -- still hanging out at JPL that night (besides the NASA folks, of course). It was late, just before midnight, Pacific, and only Jon Eberhart from Science News, Jim Louden from National Public Radio, Mark Washburn, a freelancer doing a book on the Voyager odysseys, and me – aside from the required (but very bored) JPL Public affairs Officer manning the desk in the lobby -- were still there in Von Karman … waiting. Waiting for …Voyager 2 to come out from behind Saturn, to regain radio contact with Earth … and to resume its spectacular parade of close-up images of the most astonishing planet in the solar system ….

 

I first began to suspect that “something had gone wrong,” when the close-up images of Tythys, one of Saturn's inner moons, did NOT appear on the convenient banks of TV monitors placed around Von Karmen according to the timeline.

 

As minutes of “featureless, black space” dragged into half an hour, the small group of us still officially representing “the press” finally prevailed upon the bored PIAO to place a phone call “up the hill,” to the control room. The news was not encouraging: during the Saturn ring plane crossing, a serious malfunction had apparently occurred somewhere in the aiming of Voyager's critical “scan platform” – the chain of motors and gearing used to point the cameras and several other science instruments at Saturn. Because of this “scan platform anomaly,” the voice on the phone continued, Voyager 2's cameras were now forlornly snapping picture after picture of blank space ….

 

Years afterward, a different, more sinister recounting of that night's events has emerged – including details of other “anomalies” occurring on the spacecraft that went far beyond a simple mechanical “problem with some gears” that we were encouraged to focus on that night. Officially, in most of the records of the mission, Voyager 2's problems have been “explained” as due to “a bit of debris floating loose inside the scan platform gearbox … ultimately forced into a wedging position where it could cause problems between two gear teeth, through the high usage of that gear train during the hours just before Encounter.”

 

In fact, the problems for the spacecraft turned out to be far more interesting … and worse.

 

Here, from official NASA SP-451 “Voyages to Saturn” (authored by Voyager Imaging Team Member, Dr. David Morrison) is another official record of the harrowing “events” which happened to Voyager 2 that night … which apparently began even before it's crossing of the plane of Saturn's rings:

 

 

“... August 25, 1981 ... As the Voyager spacecraft reemerged from behind Saturn [ 11:58 p.m. ], its radio signals were received at the Deep Space Network Station in Australia and transmitted directly to JPL [NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena ]. In the windowless control room, mission managers and engineers watched the signal carefully to make sure that all went well .... Their initial delight at the reacquisition of the signal quickly turned to worry and despair. The telemetry signals were not normal, with several instruments showing unexplained and peculiar transmissions. Engineering data indicated that near ring plane crossing the small control thrusters on the spacecraft had made several un-programmed and unexpected firings. Worst of all, the scan platform, with its cameras and spectrometers, was not pointed where it was supposed to be ....
 
“As more engineering data from Voyager accumulated, it became evident that the scan platform had frozen in its back-and-forth, or azimuth, motion .... Unfortunately, it had stopped in a place where sensitive instruments could be damaged by sunlight; thus ... at about 2 a.m. [August 26], instructions [were transmitted] to move the scan platform to a safe position …. By 6 a.m. it was apparent that the spacecraft had responded ... and that the initial problems with other systems had apparently repaired themselves, leaving only the scan platform to be dealt with .... At 9 a.m. the critical playback from the on-board tape recorder began .... Even after the tape recordings had been received, it was still not evident how the failure had occurred. It did not appear to be a discrete event associated with the ring plane, but rather a progressive degradation of the capability of the scan platform to move as directed. One could not even be sure that the problem really was with the hardware, as opposed to the [computer] software that provided the commands to the scan platform ….

“At the 2 p.m. science meeting, the most spectacular results [from the tape playback] were presented by Fred Scarf [Principal Investigator of the Voyager Plasma Wave Experiment]. Very close to the time of ring plane crossing, the plasma wave instrument recorded activity a million times the normal energy level. The high frequency of the signal proved that it could not be ordinary plasma waves, but more likely an electrical phenomenon taking place at the spacecraft .... The roaring sound ... on the tape ... sounding almost like a hailstorm striking a tin roof, sent chills down the spines of the seventy-five scientists attending the meeting. But did this unexpected plasma activity really have anything to do with the scan platform failure? No one could tell [emphasis added] ....”

 

 

The trajectory which took Voyager 2 to the brink of disaster that night was supposed to guide it safely down through the plane of the rings … well beyond the danger region – at about 2.86 Saturn radii (below). Mission planners expected no significant difficulties during this critical “ring plane crossing” because a previous unmanned mission – Pioneer 11, in 1974 – had crossed the rings at almost exactly the same distance from Saturn, encountering no problems.

 

 

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But something did go radically wrong that August night in 1981 -- and NASA almost lost, not just its Voyager 2 spacecraft at Saturn … but what would ultimately become a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue its “Grand Tour” of the entire outer solar system. Thankfully, whatever strange events occurred with Voyager's Saturn ring plane crossing did not permanently cripple the aging spacecraft, which would go on to successfully encounter the last two giant planets of the solar system -- Uranus, in 1986, and Neptune, in 1989, before leaving the known solar system ... on an endless outward journey that still continues at this writing.

 

But what Voyager 2 encountered at Saturn almost a quarter of a century ago, that almost killed it, still remains completely unexplained.

 

As noted, presented to the press within those first few hours as a “simple problem in a gear train controlling the spacecraft's instrument-laden ‘scan platform,'” in fact, the official NASA mission record left by David Morrison (above) highlights far more inexplicable behavior -- including anomalous electronic and computer operations covering a range of systems -- none of which could possibly have been affected by “one faulty gear train.” Based on its own telemetry, Voyager 2 came perilously close to literally dying that night in 1981 ….

 

Yet, equally inexplicable, even after this documented, harrowing experience – where NASA obviously almost lost an entire planetary mission, not to a “faulty gear,” but to the only other logical explanation, “unknown environmental factors in the close-vicinity of Saturn's rings” -- NASA has now committed it's far more complex, far more expensive (~$3 billion-dollar) follow-on Saturn mission – the current Cassini/Huygens spacecraft -- to an even closer passage through the rings (below – top right) … at a mere 2.64 radii from the center of Saturn! On this trajectory, Cassini will spend over four hours deliberately flying just 9,000 miles above the rings – simultaneously coming within 12,400 miles of the cloud tops of Saturn, its closest approach to the planet (and the rings) of the entire four-year mission – before diving back through the hazardous ring plane once again ….

 

The critical question someone should be asking NASA, given what took place in 1981, is … why!?

 

 

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It is only after many years of our research, stemming from Cydonia, that the full significance of what almost happened to Voyager 2 during its August 25, 1981 ring plane crossing has slowly become clear: Voyager 2 encountered the effects of un-modeled, Hyperdimensional forces in its close-approach to Saturn – which, because of NASA's chosen trajectory, came within a whisker of destroying that entire spacecraft!

 

Now, almost a quarter century later – because of NASA and its science teams' completely baffling risk assessment and decision-making – its 3 billion-dollar Cassini Mission seems destined to repeat its predecessor's almost fatal plunge through Saturn's rings. But this time, because the solar system – nay, Saturn itself! -- has radically changed … the results will in all likelihood be fatal.

 

 

* * *

 

 

To fully appreciate the folly of NASA's current Cassini Mission plan, we must go back to one of Voyager's most exciting – if still baffling – discoveries, over twenty years before Cassini: the finding of the “spokes” in Saturn's rings ….

 

 

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For all their solid appearance, in truth, Saturn's splendid rings are composed of trillions of separate objects – ranging from house-sized “boulders” all the way down to tiny specks of dust measuring just millionths of an inch across (below) – all orbiting Saturn in a vast, highly flattened plane. Though over 170,000 miles wide, from tip to tip, the thickness of the rings (as measured by both radar from Earth, and the two Voyager fly-by “occultations”) is just tens of feet! From both Earth-based spectroscopic observations, and close-up spacecraft data, their chemical composition has been determined to be primarily water ice.

 

The rings of Saturn are thus the flattest -- if not by far the largest -- field of icebergs in the solar system!

 

 

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Because they're separate objects, orbiting Saturn under Newtonian Gravity and Kepler's well-known Laws of Planetary Motion, the inner “bergs” revolve around the planet fastest (in about 6 hours) … with the outer ones taking significantly longer (~14 hours). That is, until Voyager I approached the planet in October, 1980, and made a startling discovery--

 

A fascinating new phenomenon, completely confounding previous understanding of the Rings … long, radial features -- longer than the Earth is wide -- revolving around Saturn as semi-rigid structures … draped across the densest, middle ring -- the B-Ring (below).

 

The fact that coherent, linear structures -- on the order of thousands of miles long -- could revolve around Saturn as discrete units, without being torn apart by the Ring's unquestioned differential rotation underneath, was completely baffling to astronomers, if not the Voyager project scientists. A lively debate immediately ensued over possible mechanisms which could create “the spokes,” and then enable them somehow to survive several revolutions around Saturn ….

 

 

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 After its startling initial discovery of these strange features, as Voyager 1 flew past Saturn and began to move away, the phase angle between the spacecraft, the rings and the sun changed. Voyager was then able to acquire new photographs of the rings, with the sun now beyond them. The baffling “dark” spokes seen during the approach (with the sun coming from behind the spacecraft), with the sun coming now across the rings – suddenly turned bright (below).

 

 

 


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In optics, this behavior – called “forward scattering” -- is only produced by particles approximately equal to the wavelengths of the electromagnetic energy illuminating the particles themselves. By exhibiting such strong “forward scattering” behavior in sunlight, the mysterious “spoke particles” of Saturn's rings were immediately revealed as being on the order of visible light waves – a few thousand angstroms ( millionths of an inch) across. Theories which had previously proposed that the “spokes” were composed of very tiny ring materials, somehow elevated above the ring plane by electrostatic forces, immediately gained major ground with these new images. The lingering mystery for over twenty years has been “what could cause electrostatic forces of sufficient magnitude … to organize trillions of tiny particles, across thousands of miles … and then float them, coherently, above the rings of Saturn … literally for days.”

 

This is where things begin to get really interesting ….

 

Apparently unknown to the Voyager science team in 1980 (and the Cassini team in 2004), there is a remarkable experiment -- first conducted by one of the pioneers of modern physics, Michael Faraday -- which now seems highly relevant to answering these important questions ... if not to saving Cassini from destruction.

 

Termed “the Faraday disc experiment,” Dr. Bruce DePalma describes what Faraday discovered almost 200 years ago:

 

“In the autumn of 1831 when Michael Faraday performed the initial experiments which resulted in the

discovery of the first dynamo, he also described a phenomenon which has yet to be understood in terms

of conventional electrical theory. In paragraphs 255, 256, and 257 of his diary [fig. 2, ref. 1], dated

December 26, 1831, is described the experiment of cementing a copper disc on top of a cylinder magnet, paper intervening, and supporting the magnet by means of a string so as to rotate axially, with the wires of a galvanometer connected to the edge and axis of the copper plate. When this combination was caused to rotate an electrical potential was found to be created. The polarity and the magnitude of the potential was found to be the same as would occur if the copper plate had moved and the magnet remained still. Faraday spent his latter years pondering the relationship between the situation of magnet and disc rotating together vis-a-vis the situation of fixed magnet and disc rotating independently. He explained the situation by positing the assumption that the magnetic field of a magnet remained stationary in space whilst the metal of the magnet revolved axially. Thus a relative motion would exist between the moving metal of the magnet and the posited stationary flux lines giving rise to the expected potential which results from the motion of a wire through a magnetic field [emphasis added].”

 

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Now also known as a “homopolar generator,” the profound mystery of the 173-year-old “co-rotating Faraday disc and magnet” -- how an electrical current can be created in a conductor which is apparently not moving relative to the source of a magnetic field! -- is still being hotly debated by physicists and electrical engineers. Or, as DePalma elegantly phrased it, “… a phenomenon which has yet to be understood in terms of conventional electrical theory.” DePalma, an innovative experimental physicist, would go on to invent and build several of his own versions of this remarkable generator – which he called the “N-Machine” – based on Faraday's anomalous “rotating magnet and attached disc concept” (below). Faraday's anomalous “rotating magnet and attached disc concept” (below).

 

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The relevance of Faraday's classical experiment (and DePalma's further explorations) to Voyager's exotic “spoke” discoveries at Saturn, is simply this:

A look at the interior of Saturn (below) reveals that in this planet we have all the key ingredients necessary for a remarkable “homopolar generator”: a high strength magnetic field, created by an enormous supply of spinning metallic hydrogen – surrounded by a vast, orbiting disc composed of trillions of separate particles. The missing element is “are those particles electrically conductive?” … like the copper disc in Faraday's original experiment?

 

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The answer is: the ring particles themselves may not be conductive -- but the atmosphere in which they orbit definitely is ….

 

Among the many scientific discoveries confirmed during both historic Voyager fly-bys of Saturn, was a toroidal (donut-shaped) cloud of neutral hydrogen around the Rings. Ultraviolet scans across Saturn, an entire planet (like Jupiter) composed primarily of hydrogen, did not reveal a similar excess of this gas above its limb – leaving “evaporation from the Rings” as the only logical source for the cloud that Voyager detected.

 

Given that the Rings are mostly frozen water, the Voyager team concluded that the hydrogen had to come from the dissociation of that water (slowly, at Saturn's ultra-frigid temperatures), literally evaporating from the Rings … the ultimate splitting of the oxygen and hydrogen by ultraviolet sunlight. This would produce, in addition to the neutral hydrogen Voyager had found, a larger, invisible cloud of (much harder to detect) ionized oxygen and hydrogen … and hydroxyl (OH) radicals.

 

Years later, Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations, made from Earth orbit during three, rare, edge-on presentations of the extremely thin Rings to Earth in 1995 (below) would confirm the existence of this ring-hugging torus of hydroxyl radicals – split from the parent, icy rings. Taken when the solar glare from the tipped rings was minimized, the sensitive Hubble observations finally confirmed a thin “atmosphere” of OH, extending more than 15,000 miles above and below the central ring plane.

 

 

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Years later, in 2002, other HST observations followed the hydroxyl distribution farther from Saturn … into the outer Saturn system – confirming earlier Earth observations, that the cloud density peaks at approximately the orbit of Enceladus (below), over 140 thousand miles from Saturn. While the astronomers and theorists who made these observations believe this confirms a “mysterious source” for the OH somewhere near Enceledus, we shall show that there is another, more significant explanation for this distribution – which is what is going to directly affect the fate of the Cassini Mission ….

 

 

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One additional element is necessary to complete this picture of “Saturn as a giant, homopolar generator.”

 

During the Voyager Saturn observations, several time-lapse “ spoke movies ” were acquired, some coving more than twelve revolutions (~5.5 days) of the anomalous features around Saturn. One of the surprise discoveries from those observations was that the revolution of the spokes was somehow neatly synchronized with the internal rotation rate of Saturn! Quoting from the analysis: “ These results suggest that the fundamental period of spoke variation is that of Saturn's magnetic field [emphasis added] ….”

 

These results strongly supported the idea that the spokes were trillions of tiny icy particles, spalled off the larger ring objects by collisions and/or meteorite bombardment, then … electrified by exposure to solar ultraviolet light (just as the water vapor coming from the rings is), and thus susceptible – like all other electrified materials -- to a magnetic field. In this case, Saturn's powerful internal field, generated by the spinning of its own deep metallic hydrogen.

 

In terms of generating sufficient quantities of tiny “dust” particles for Saturn's field to influence, another Voyager observation becomes highly relevant: the fact that images of the Rings, taken on opposite sides of the planet during the fly-bys, revealed a remarkably active, dynamic ring environment (below). The rings are NOT smooth orbital arcs of well-behaved material, but instead, reveal themselves in constant internal motion … with countless collisions between the large and small ring particles transferring the energy throughout the ring plane as a series of readily-seen “waves” (below).

 

 

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The result of all this turmoil must be a constant production of trillions of micro-sized, icy “dust” particles, especially in the B-ring … the perfect “raw material” for making “spokes.”

 

The effect is ultimately “a Saturn-sized N-machine” (below) ….

 

 

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* * *

 

 

What, then, does all this mean for Voyager in 1981 -- and its near-miss brush with death? And what does it portend for the Cassini Mission in just a few days now – which seems so intent on repeating Voyager's perilous history … again?

 

If Saturn IS acting like a giant “N-Machine,” then much of what happened to Voyager during its ring plane crossing can finally be explained ….

 

For, with Saturn as a giant, spinning magnet, and the rings (especially, the plasma and the dust revolving among the larger particles) acting like Faraday's “conducting disc” – remember, regardless of their own motions, the particles WILL generate a current if they are moving through a rotating magnetic field (Saturn!) – such a situation will inevitably generate a substantial voltage across the Rings themselves.

 

How “substantial?”

 

If we take DePalma's own equation for the radial voltage generated in a spinning homopolar generator (see diagram, above), it is easy to approximate the electrical forces experienced by a charged dust speck orbiting within the rings. The equation looks like this:

 

 

E (volts) = area (cm2) X mag field intensity (in Gauss) X RPS (Saturn's internal rev. per. sec.) X k (an empirical constant)

 

Or,

 

 

4X1015 cm2 X .1gauss X 3.8X10-4 rps X 10-8

 

Or,

 

 

E = ~3000 volts

 

 

Three thousand volts ….

 

Now, because the non-dust-grain ring particles revolve around Saturn in Keplarian orbits, the inner rings orbit faster than Saturn's magnetic field rotates, while the outer ring debris revolves slower (the dividing line is just about in the middle of the B-ring). According to the text books, this should create a highly complex induction calculation to find the effective voltage even between adjacent ring particles. But, according to Faraday's remarkable 1831 experiment, this changing rate of ring particles relative to the rotation of the field doesn't matter in the least. Even if they were motionless -- relative to Saturn's internal rotation -- according to Faraday's intensely controversial discovery, the rings would still generate a voltage between the inner and the outer edges!

 

Thus, if there is any “micro-sized” population of electrically conductive material – the inevitable grains produced in inter-particle collisions cited before – they will react in dramatic ways to these considerable electric “homopolar” forces.

 

It has recently been shown that dust grains in the space environment (such as those proposed to explain the existence of the “spokes”) can acquire significant positive charges from UV solar radiation (Rosenberg, M., D. A. Mendis, and D. P. Sheehan [1999], “Positively charged dust crystals induced by radiative heating,” IEEE Trans. Plasma Sci., 27, 142– 239). The magnitude of this mechanism was estimated as creating between “100 and 100,000 proton charges ….” Other processes deep in a plasma magnetosphere, such as Saturn's, can also convey negative electric charges to such icy grains. While a full description of the dynamics of these charged dust grains in an environment such as Saturn's rings is extremely complex -- being governed by an intricate combination of gravitational, magnetic, and electric forces -- a “first-order” solution can at least tell us something about the magnitude of the forces acting on these grains, and what they'll do as a result.

 

Such a highly simplified equation looks like this—

 

 

a = q E

    m

 

 

--where, “q” is the electric charge on an average grain; “m” is its mass; “E” is the cross ring “homopolar” voltage; and “a” is the resulting grain acceleration.

 

One proton or electron charge equals 1.6 X 10-19 Coulombs. Being conservative, we'll assume that Saturn's icy spokes are “only” charged with 1.6 X 10-17 Coulombs per grain. The mass of such tiny grains, measured by several missions (Pioneer, Voyager, etc.), is about 10-17 grams per grain.

 

So, what does all this mean in terms of “spokes?”

 

If we substitute approximate real values in our equation:

 

 

1.6 X 10-17 X 3000 volts
1.6 X 10-17

 

Then,

a = ~3000 cm/sec2

 

 

In other words, the radial “homopolar voltage” in Saturn's rings will accelerate a tiny grain of ice across the Rings … at a rate increase of almost two miles per second, per second -- for every second it's exposed to such a voltage! Such an acceleration will operate on all similar mass, all similarly charged particles … as long as they are within the “Saturn N-Machine,” and under the influence of the planet's extended magnetic field … accelerating them to extraordinary final velocities as a result.

 

Just how “extraordinary?”

 

Another simple calculation – and again we realize these are just “order of magnitude estimates” to illustrate the basic physics – can easily determine approximately how fast these particles are traveling, by the time they finally reach the ring plane crossing points of Voyager … or Cassini. What we want to know is how long the grains will be “under acceleration” by this ~3000 volts. The longer they're exposed, the higher their final velocities become ….

 

Thus, by inverting the basic equation:

 

 

S = at2

       2

 

 

Where, “S” is the distance across the rings the particles have to travel to reach the spacecraft; “a” is the grain acceleration; and “t” is the total time of flight,

 

 

                2S = t

a

 

 

Finding the square root and solving for “t,” we derive the total time they are under acceleration -- due to the ~3000 voltage potential across that section of the rings ….

 

In MKS units,

 

 

 
2 X 158,400 km = t
a

 

 

Or,

 

t = ~325 seconds

 

 

Now, the $64,000 Question:

 

How fast will these tiny, icy “bullets” be traveling … by the time they reach Voyager (or Cassini), crossing the ring plane through their supposed “safe” gap in Saturn's Rings …?

 

The velocity of an object under acceleration is:

 

 

V = at

 

Or,

 

3000 cm2 X 325 sec

 

For a final velocity of:

 

V = ~975,000 cm/sec

 

 

Or, converting back to English units … close to 600 miles per second!

 

No wonder there are long, planet-spanning streaks across Saturn's densest ring -- the visual evidence of an electrified, literal planetary particle accelerator … over 15,000 miles long!

 

 

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Now, how much damage does even one tiny grain create -- weighing less than a thousand trillionth of a gram – … when it impacts a spacecraft at that incredible velocity?

 

Clearly, if the Cassini mission planners are basing their ring crossing safety calculations on the simple Keplerian velocity of tiny dust particle orbiting Saturn, combined with Cassini's own approach velocity – which vectorially adds to about ~15 miles per second – they're off in their estimates of the velocity of possible small particle impacts by a factor of at least forty times!

 

And, because the damage an impacting object does is proportional to its total kinetic energy -- which rises as the square of its velocity -- Cassini will be subjected to impact energies fully 1500 TIMES greater than what the Cassini engineers have apparently designed for at ring plane crossing!

 

The result: as Cassini flies up through Saturn's ring plane (late Wednesday night at JPL), at a supposed “safe” distance from the cloud tops of ~ 35,000 miles (below), it will be cut down by a incredible barrage of tiny “machine gun bullets” hitting it like an SDI orbital defense system ... resulting in the instantaneous LOSS of the entire Cassini spacecraft -- and its 4-year orbital mission -- in a blinding flash of light.

 

 

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The ONLY hope for Cassini's survival at this point, in our estimation, is a radical change in the approach trajectory … to a crossing of the ring plane either hiding in the “ring shadow” of one of the inner satellites (like Mimas or Enceledus) … or, crossing much farther from the ring themselves.

 

 

* * *

 

 

So, what actual evidence – apart from an approximate theory and some quarter-century-old images of “spokes” – do we have that any of this is true?

 

Well, for one thing, we can examine once again the official record of what happened to Voyager 2 that night in 1981 ….

 

 

“… very close to the time of ring plane crossing, the plasma wave instrument recorded activity a million
times the normal energy level. The high frequency of the signal proved that it could not be ordinary plasma waves, but more likely an ‘electrical phenomenon' taking place at the spacecraft .... The roaring sound ... on the tape ... sounding almost like a hailstorm striking a tin roof, sent chills down the spines of the seventy-five scientists attending the meeting. But did this unexpected plasma activity really have anything to do with the scan platform failure? No one could tell [emphasis added] ....”

 

 

Voyager 2 crossed Saturn's ring plane at 2.86 Rs (Saturn radii) from the center of the planet – over 40,000 miles above the clouds. And it almost got “fried” by “whatever” it encountered at the rings. That was over twenty years ago. As we have carefully documented elsewhere on Enterprise, in our on-going series “ Interplanetary Day After Tomorrow?” Part 3, the entire Saturn system has now undergone some stunning – and to NASA, still totally inexplicable – changes … since the last Voyager spacecraft left Saturn almost a quarter century ago. One of these baffling changes includes--

 

The apparent total disappearance of “the spokes!”

 

The extraordinary Cassini images of Saturn during its approach (below) have revealed a startling lack of any of these exotic features on this mission.

 

 

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So, if that's the case, what are we so worried about?

 

If the spokes – and their trillions of tiny, lethal “bullets” -- are the key problem with Cassini's survival (in our model), why would we be concerned if they have now “conveniently” simply disappeared?

 

Why, indeed.

 

There are two possible reasons for the “spoke's” apparent disappearance now: either Saturn's rings have stopped making dust (which is incredibly unlikely, given the richness of internal B-ring detail that Cassini imaged, totally comparable to Voyager's images at the same resolution). Or … “something else” in the ring environment has changed … to the point where conspicuous amounts of tiny, micron-sized particles cannot “hang around” long enough to accumulate as optically thick features, hovering above the rings ….

 

It's the second possibility which greatly increases our concerns.

 

For, if the production of fine dust (from ring particle collisions) is pretty much the same now as twenty years ago, but we're not seeing blatant evidence of all that dust in the Cassini images, then “something” must be getting rid of it at a considerably faster rate than during the Voyager encounters. And that can only mean that the rate of Saturn's “firing” of its trillions of lethal dust motes across the rings has dramatically increased … leading to an obvious increase in the danger they present to the Cassini Mission.

 

It's simply a matter of an “influx/outgo” calculation – like having your salary automatically deposited by computer in your bank account, and another program which automatically pays bills. If the latter significantly increases, and the former (your salary) stays the same ... your balance (despite your continuing automatic deposits) will visibly begin to shrink.

 

Something similar appears to be happening to the amount of tiny, icy dust in Saturn's B-ring: its now being depleted as fast (or faster) than it can be visibly replenished by internal ring collisions ... which does NOT bode well for the Cassini's Mission ….

 

What could have happened in the intervening ~20 years …?

 

Going back to the Saturn data carefully compiled for our “ Interplanetary ” series by my co-author, David Wilcock, there are several vital clues. Some are indirect – such as a paper reporting HST data on the extent of Saturn's “anomalous” OH cloud, well beyond the rings … peaking at the orbit of Enceladus. Careful reading of this paper reveals the authors' puzzlement over an obviously extra source of water required to explain these observations, conflicting directly with the apparent invisibility of such a source ….

 

Others hit you smack between the eyes … such as the new Chandra X-Ray Observatory images of Saturn (below). According to the official NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center release:

 

 

“The first clear detection of X-rays from the giant, gaseous planet Saturn has been made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Chandra's image shows that the X-rays are concentrated near Saturn's equator -- a surprising result since Jupiter's X-ray emission is mainly concentrated near the poles. Existing theories cannot easily explain the intensity or distribution of Saturn's X-rays. The Marshall Center manages the Chandra program [emphasis added].”
 

        

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In the current “ring accelerator model” we're discussing, such “anomalous” x-ray observations are implicitly predicted.

 

Earlier, we stated that the dust motes produced in the rings could be both positively and negatively charged: the former from unfiltered solar ultraviolet light sputtering electrons off the grains; the latter from negative charges picked up from the negatively ionized plasma (mostly water), surrounding the rings. Further, in our description of the “Saturn N-Machine,” we've focused only on those particles which are aimed outward ... which could directly affect Cassini as it approaches Saturn.

 

But, because the dust can hold both charges, it's just as likely that approximately half of it will be negatively charged. What happens to those dust specks?

 

The homopolar ring accelerator process operating in the rings of Saturn simultaneously flings dust grains, depending on their charge, in both directions. With Saturn's “north” magnetic pole currently located at the south rotational pole, negative dust grains are accelerated outward … towards Cassini … and positively charged dust is being accelerated inward

 

Directly into Saturn – at about 600 miles per second!

 

Or, more accurately -- into Saturn's upper atmosphere, directly below the ring plane ... in the equatorial regions of the planet—

 

Exactly as observed by the Chandra X-ray Observatory!

 

As a measure of how “behind the curve” NASA's scientists and engineers seem to be regarding what's truly taking place at Saturn, Jan-Uwe Ness, of the University of Hamburg in Germany and lead author of a paper discussing the Saturn results in an upcoming issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics, said of Chandra's surprising discovery:

 

 

“It's a puzzle, since the intensity of Saturn's X-rays [more than 90 megawatts ] requires that Saturn reflects X-rays fifty times more efficiently than the Moon.”

 

 

His comment was based on a parallel Chandra observation: that the x-ray spectrum of Saturn's anomalous equatorial radiation appeared to be “ very similar to that of X-rays from the Sun. ” If it was “similar,” so the Chandra scientists reasoned, it must be “reflected” solar x-rays … simply being scattered by the Saturn atmosphere.

 

Our explanation is a bit more interesting ….

 

As the inward-accelerated icy grains impact Saturn, they should leave behind a blatant signature of enhanced water vapor in Saturn's upper atmosphere. Remarkably, at the 28th Annual DPS Meeting in Tucson, AZ, in 1996, the following research note was quietly presented:

 

 

Water from the Rings is Raining onto Saturn! A remarkable hypothesis about the short lifetime of
Saturn's spectacular ring system has apparently been confirmed by UV spectroscopy with the Hubble Space Telescope: At wavelengths below 180 nm there is an enormous water absorption feature in the clouds of the planet which is due to water - which can be traced back to the ring system. The latter is being eroded by micrometeorite hits, and some of the chipped-off particles get negatively charged and follow Saturn's magnetic field lines straight into its cloud deck. This fact will allow to determine the erosion rate (and thus the age) of the rings from the water abundance of Saturn's clouds.

 

 

As to the “similarity” between the enhanced Saturn x-ray emission and the solar x-ray spectrum, we find it extremely “coincidental” that this high intensity emission – unlike x-rays observed on Jupiter -- is only seen coming from Saturn's equatorial regions—

 

Directly underneath the Rings!

 

Similar unexpected x-ray emission was observed, beginning in 1996, from several water-laden comets – which are known to contain abundant amounts of similar icy dust. This raises the strong possibility that the influx of trillions of miniscule ice particles being shot into Saturn from its rings is somehow also responsible for this major x-ray anomaly on Saturn. Several papers have been written describing the role of “micron-sized dust particles in enhanced x-ray emission in a comet's dusty plasma environment ….” Of note, a couple authors have proposed

 

 

“… a relationship between the gas-to-dust ratio in the comet and its X-ray production, with X-ray
production correlating positively with gas production. Only Cravens's (1997) model and subsequent
treatments expanding it (Ha¨berli et al. 1997) predict this circumstance and stand up to the results
of these data. It works by charge exchange between highly charged heavy ions (i.e., the likes of
O7+) in the solar wind and cometary neutrals.

 

 

If large amounts of icy particles are indeed being fired into Saturn from the Rings, the anomalous amount of ionized oxygen (“a heavy ion”) liberated from the original water molecules in their high speed (~600 miles per second) entry into Saturn would be an extremely significant addition to Saturn's upper equatorial atmosphere – and could easily create a similar x-ray scattering environment. Details notwithstanding, the anomalous x-ray emission – coming from precisely the same region as we're now proposing that Saturn is being heavily bombarded by literally trillions of tiny, cosmic “bullets” – should serve as another definite warning to Cassini ….

 

 

* * *

 

 

Apart from the practical “life or death” consequences to the Cassini Mission, these exotic phenomena should open new doorways of understanding to the underlying Physics at work here … if the NASA scientific establishment is willing to really look and listen. For over twenty years, these scientists have been presented with a range of exotic phenomena at Saturn which have defied “conventional” understanding – from “the spokes” themselves, to the equally bewildering macroscopic behavior of the larger particles making up the Rings (look at all those “ringlets!”), to the anomalous distribution of dust and OH radicals far beyond the Rings ... to the uniquely aligned magnetic field of Saturn itself.

 

 

Click for enlarged view

 

 

But again and again, as surveys of the thousands of scientific papers written on the Voyager results and later HST Saturn observations show … the NASA scientific establishment has been unwilling (at least publicly) to admit that Saturn is operating “by considerably different rules” ….

 

It is our position that these “exotic” phenomena can only be properly explained by application of Hyperdimensional Physics to the Saturn system -- beginning with its anomalous emission of almost three times the amount of energy that it receives from the Sun (the conventional “explanation” -- that this is due to an interior “helium drip” -- notwithstanding). In terms of the larger Ring anomalies – “spokes” apart – these are perhaps the most obvious phenomena now explainable by the application of the Hyperdimensional Model.

 

But that explanation must begin, not with an HD theory … but with an extremely elegant laboratory experiment – conducted by Dr. Bruce DePalma, who carried out a wide variety of seminal experiments in “basic object rotation” … over thirty years ago.

 

In other venues, I have referred to these repeated laboratory demonstrations – especially, Bruce's classic “spinning ball experiment” -- as clearly revealing a fundamental flaw in, not only Newton's Laws … but in NASA's (again, public) understanding of their application to even the basics of simple spaceflight. If what DePalma observed in his laboratory over a generation ago is real, then no spacecraft (including the Cassini Mission) is navigated to its distant destination via the application of the simple Kepler and Newtonian dynamics we've all been taught.

 

There is something more at work here ….

 

The key DePalma experiment I'm about to describe was extremely “simple” but profound – which is the essence of good science. What DePalma did was to take two steel “pinballs,” spin one of them very rapidly (at over 27 thousand revolutions per minute), then toss both simultaneously into the air …. In repeated experiments, he double exposed the differences between the two balls' dynamics (via a stroboscope) against a gridded, quantitative backdrop (below).

 

 

Click for enlarged view

 

 

 

Invariably -- the spinning ball flew higher faster … and fell farther ... faster … than the non-spinning control.

 

And that is impossible… by any mainstream science.

 

DePalma grappled with this MAJOR physics anomaly for years … conducting countless additional rotating experiments, bouncing rotating objects off non-rotating ones, electrifying some of his rotating gyroscopes in imitation of Faraday's classic “rotating disc experiment” … ultimately reaching interesting (if tentative) conclusions regarding the dynamics of all rotating mass in three dimensions.

 

His central finding: rotating objects, somehow, draw on a source of “free energy” in space itself – as opposed to their non-rotating counterparts. Where this energy came from was beyond DePalma's ability to model … until decades later, our discussions over the ultimate source of this energy turned (logically) to our own Cydonia work ... and the possibility of “other spatial dimensions.” Unfortunately, Bruce died before we could complete those critical discussions ….

 

Now, imagine Saturn's ring environment.

 

Better yet – just look at this artist's recreation of a tiny section in the rings (below). What do you see …?

 

A thousand … million … billion … interacting objects, all bumping into one another, all exchanging energy, all the while also orbiting the planet …. All—

 

Spinning … spinning ... spinning ……………….

 

 

Click for enlarged view

 

 

It is clear from DePalma's long-term rotation experiments that spinning objects, measured deep inside a gravitational “well,” tap into “something” … and move differently … compared to non-rotating objects. DePalma ultimately theorized that the rotating pinballs in his “spinning ball experiment” tapped into some “hidden” source of energy – the “primordial cosmic field,” as he termed it -- allowing them to travel higher and fall faster in the Earth's gravitational environment than the non-rotating control objects. Whatever the source of the object's anomalous motion, that it caused the rotating pinball to somehow gain extraordinary energy was uncontestable.

 

Now, extend DePalma's simple observations to include the extraordinarily complex processes going on in Saturn's Rings ….

 

Instead of just two balls – one spinning and the other not – imagine literally trillions of such objects, in all manner of sizes, rotational rates, rotational orientations and collisional velocities. Based on DePalma's spinning ball demonstration, what would you imagine would be the result of scaling up the “experiment” – if it included literally trillions of tumbling objects in the Rings …?

 

Might the result not look a bit like this …?

 

 

Click for enlarged view

 

 

It should be obvious from even this one Voyager close-up, that “something” is pumping enormous energy into the Rings.

 

With the understanding gained from DePalma's “spinning ball experiment,” it is easy now to imagine the processes which can produce this stunning pattern: the continual transfer of energy from the faster rotating ring objects to the slower, the constant attempted movement of ring particles, against the very laws of gravity, from their inner orbits … to ones more distant from the planet ... until temporarily halted by the “anchor” of a massive, embedded “moonlet” in the Rings. But, over time, even such massive objects will be inexorably moved away from Saturn … by the addition of orbital energy from “somewhere.” Thus, by DePalma's simple laboratory demonstration, the Rings cannot be primordial … and eventually, they're doomed to slowly dissipate into oblivion. So, why do we get to see them now?

 

That, unfortunately, is a fascinating and all-important question for another time ….

 

But here and now, it is this fundamental HD process, we propose, which creates the ever expanding waves of ring particles that Voyager observed, that sets up the strikingly coherent, bewilderingly complex patterns … even as the inevitable collisions deep inside create cloud after cloud of tiny, light-sized particles … which will be rapidly accelerated into Saturn, while others are flung forever into space by the electric, homopolar nature of the Rings ….

 

If one wanted to send a NASA mission to the one place in the entire solar system where the process of Hyperdimensional Physics is laid bare, where the intricacies of exotic energy flow, anti-gravity effects, homopolar electrical acceleration and stunning planetary evolution are revealed … Saturn is the obvious destination.

 

So … is this the reason that Cassini has been sent on an apparent “suicide mission?” To investigate close-up, with state-of-the-art 21 st Century space technology, a place whose physics can only be described as “revolutionary?” Is the spacecraft actually more prepared for such a “secret mission” – including being able to survive its highly dangerous ring plane crossings -- than we have been publicly led to believe …?

 

And, is this the reason that, despite a variety of totally compelling data regarding Saturn's radically changed environment since Voyager in 1981 -- the Cassini Team seems “not to have noticed” … and has, for some reason, even chosen to deliberately imperil an entire NASA Mission with this astonishing approach trajectory?

 

No better official expression of a “feigning of profound ignorance” regarding the real lessons of Saturn could be found, than this recent interview with Dr. Carolyn Porco, Principal Investigator of the Cassini Imaging Team:

 

 

“The spokes are something entirely different, they don't have anything to do with the origin of the rings,
they're almost like frosting on the cake. They're this interesting phenomenon that was seen by Voyager
on approach to Saturn, and there's some dispute as to whether Voyager was the first to see this. Some
ground-based observers claim to have seen similar things. They were these spoke-like very transient
features that we saw on the rings. Mostly on what we call the morning ansae of the rings, which is
where the ring material emerges from the shadow, behind the planet into sunlight. That's where we
saw them most prominently. We also saw them most prominently with a particular magnetic field. They
are puzzling, we thought they were clouds of very small particles -- micron in size or half a micron in size,
a millionth of a meter -- they formed these radial streaks across the rings, and the dust particles would
revolve around the planet just like a moon would, and eventually they would settle back down to the ring
plane, and when that would happen, the spoke would basically fade away. And they seemed to fade away in less than an orbit period, so these things were constantly being created. They were transient and stochastic, and they were always there when Voyager looked.

Now we're not seeing them. And they were seen from the Hubble Space Telescope, and people using HST suggest it's the visibility effect. They were able to see them when the sun and the earth together were just barely above the rings, but during the Saturnian year where we are now, when the sun and the earth are high above the rings, they couldn't see them anymore. So it might be a visibility effect, and we might see them again with Cassini when it has the opportunity to look at the rings when it's closer to the ring plane than it is now.
Or it might be literally a seasonal effect, where we have to wait years before we see them again.

”We think the spokes have to do with meteor bombardment on the rings but some folks think the meteor
bombardment might be more -- there might be more collisions on the rings at certain times of the Saturnian year than others. And if that's the case, then we'll see more spokes created seasonally.

To summarize --- could be a visibility effect, and we're not seeing spokes now because we're not in the
proper geometry to see them. Or it could be that the creation of the spokes is seasonal and there are more spokes on the rings at certain times of the Saturnian year and this is not the time. But I have to say; I don't really consider the spokes as having fundamental things to teach us. It's an interesting phenomenon, it probably has to do with the interaction between the Saturnian magnetic field, the magnetosphere, and the rings and meteorites bombarding the rings, so it captures a lot of things going on, but even still, it's not one of the fundamental questions that we're going to address with Cassini …[emphasis added].”

 

 

In fact, as we have demonstrated, proper interpretation of “the spokes” is one of the keys to understanding not only the present ring environment -- as a highly active, electrically charged and incredibly dynamic medium, in which DePalma's anomalous laboratory experiments in rotation and power generation are being played out on a literally planetary scale before our eyes -- but far, far more ….

 

 

Understanding of the current “trivial” processes seen within the Rings, we believe, could be the key to understanding nothing less than precisely how HD “free energy” enters this dimension … if not how gravity itself can someday be controlled.

 

And yet Dr. Carolyn Porco – head of the Cassini Imaging Team -- is now officially on record as believing that these phenomena are ultimately only “frosting on the cake … not one of the ‘fundamental' questions that we're going to address with Cassini ….”

 

But does she … really ?

 

Can an esteemed planetary scientist, in charge of the key imaging experiment on the most expensive NASA planetary mission in history, be that abysmally ignorant of the fundamental scientific process of discovery … that paying attention to even “seemingly trivial clues” leads to fundamental scientific revolutions … if not Nobel Prizes? And, of all places, at Saturn -- where previous spacecraft observations (of which she was a part!) proved to everyone that we know almost nothing of the solar system!?

 

Or, is Dr. Porco -- by her incredibly disingenuous remarks – actually attempting to hide “something”—

 

Like … the real reason Cassini's deliberately being sent into “harm's way” as it approaches Saturn?

 

Are the four long hours Cassini is supposed to spend -- flying and observing just 9000 miles above the ring plane, less than 12,400 miles from Saturn (if it can survive its double ring plane passage!) – somehow worth the incredible risk to the entire Mission … to “someone?”

 

What, then, could be so important that the previous almost fatal history of Voyager 2 has been totally (and obviously deliberately) ignored?

 

Is there, in fact, something priceless to be gained from Cassini's one and only close-passage of the Rings … even as it attempts to enter Saturn orbit … which Dr. Porco is attempting to cover with “clever misdirection?”

 

Stay tuned.

 

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